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Christmas on the Cheap

Cute Ideas for the Consumer on a Budget

Christmas has become severely commercialized and most of us can agree that it can be wallet draining. We want to shower the people we love with beautiful jewelry and new cars, but it can backfire on us. Our economy is more stable than in the past, but still a lot of people live paycheck to paycheck. There are a lot of reasons for this, but with Christmas especially, many people cannot afford such extravagant gifts. Some people even tend to go further into debt around the holidays while others rely on a holiday bonus that any company can revoke if they so please.

Not only can the paycheck itself be your deterrent for gift giving, but the tastes of the people you love can get more than a little high-ticket. There's all kinds of new gadgets and really cool toys (for both adults and kids) around the holidays. Companies count on us always wanting something new and shiny to offset the depressive nature of the holidays. We always want something cooler than what we have. The new iPhone that comes in yellow, all shiny and beautiful, but 700 dollars with my plan sounds like excess expenses per month and less money in my savings for my trip to Ireland next year.

So what can you do?! How can you avoid having to pay hundreds to thousands of dollar to please your loved ones?

One of my favorite hobbies during my two breaks at work is looking up alternative gift ideas on Pinterest. A few of them cost a fortune and/or take a master crafter to complete, but the dollar store ideas can be just as wonderful if not more. It shows the person that you're creative and that you love them.

Idea One: Christmas Baskets

Credit: livinghours.com

With this idea, you can spend whatever amount you want. The baskets at Dollar Tree and Deals cost a buck. If you want to decorate them, some superglue and ribbon (two more dollars) work to spruce up this cute gift idea. Maybe some glitter or pom poms to add some bling to it (for the person who enjoys a little extra to their gifts). Or just toss a bow on it. It's all fantastic. Next, fill it with comfort items or even items you can get from other stores. It makes the perfect Christmas gift because you can get more for less depending on what you fill it with.

Cost: a couple of dollars to whatever you feel comfortable spending.

Idea Two: Individual Gifts

Credit: rachelteodoro.com

If the dollar stores have always seemed a little cheap to you, it's because they are...very cheap in some cases. That's their purpose, but every once in awhile, you can find worthwhile items like a cute magnet for your refrigerator or a pretty plush animal that can be for a child or an adult. There's also a ton of books for the bibliophile and glassware for the person always breaking theirs. Point is you can usually find something you like or something someone else would enjoy.

Cost: one dollar (three if you get a gift bag and some tissue.)

Idea Three: Crafts

Credit: diyjoy.com

Now if you love crafting, but are on a tight budget, this is perfect for you. Take an ordinary glass or plate and make it unique. You may have to hit a couple of dollar stores as not as all of them sell the same crafting materials, but the finished product is something extraordinary.

Last year, I was a secret Santa for someone I had never met and had no idea what to get her on the ten dollar budget my work allotted. So I gave her a jar with cash in it (because who doesn't love a little extra cash for the holidays?), but the jar, although cute with snowmen and penguins on it, needed a little bling. I superglued some dollar stores jewels and filled the inside with some sequins (glitter can get everywhere and be hard to remove). While she did not quite care for it, others passed it around and adored it asking me how I did this and how I did that. I told them YouTube and Pinterest tutorials can make you an expert on anything. 

With any of these gifts or any gift period, you're always at risk of someone who is not appreciative. Maybe they don't like "cheap" things or maybe they wanted something they didn't tell you about. I've done the route of Amazon lists and just asking people what they want. "I don't know" or "it doesn't matter" tend to the responses for most people, but when you do get them something, they can act like it's an offense to their very core. I know it sucks, but ignore it. Holidays are supposed to be a time where we're grateful for all we have, but with all the advertisements and other media influences, we tend to lose sight in material items. At least with these routes (especially the crafts), they have a human touch that connects to the heart.

I've written about three of my favorite options, the ones I am obsessed with researching, but there are several more options. Dollar stores, Amazon, Walmart, and all kinds of tricks to getting more of your bucks during the gift-giving season. Pinterest and the internet have afforded more ideas and inspiration than ever. Pinterest especially is a fantastic source and I encourage everyone to use it for whatever you need.

Whatever you do for the holidays, do it for love and be grateful for the people around you this holiday season. There is always a chance that a room full of people will change one year. Maybe there's an addition, maybe there's a loss (death, divorce, etc), but there's always a chance that your holidays will be different next year so be grateful.

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